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Editorial: Defining MEQ and CMEQ

6 Minute Read
Jun 6 2011
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Boys and girls, Unicorns and children of all ages, today’s article is surprisingly fairly straightforward.  It’s not meant to refight ‘Counts-As’ – let’s let that one rest – but will instead concentrate on the one area that seems to cause the most dissension:  MEQ.

Blah, blah, blah, my name is Brent, blah blah, Strictly Average, blah blah, attention whore.

Let’s move on.

Step One:  Define the Terms

Counts-As:  An army put together and meant to use the ruleset of an existing Codex without confusion or conflict.

Proxy:  A model defined as one thing but used as another.

These are my terms: if you disagree please feel free to drop your own in the comments.  I’m not willing to fight over it but I’ll certainly have the conversation!

So these are broad terms, but in general they’re fairly well understood.  Still, like it was pointed out in the opening, the area were there appears to be the most confusion is in applying the terms to MEQ, or Marine Equivalent armies.

MEQ is by far the most popular army type in the game… so is it just a Space Marine of some type, with Power Armor and a Bolter?

No, not really.  Consider for a moment the difference between a Grey Hunter and a Blood Angel Tactical Marine.  Both obviously carry the Bolter and wear the armor, but they’re also further defined by a unique ruleset.  The Space Wolf can Counter Attack while the Blood Angel has a 1 in 6 chance of walking around Fearless.

Yea, we understand the game is modified by Special Rules – but the most profound difference is simpler than that: the wargear is different.  Raise your hand if you know which one has a Bolter, Bolt Pistol, and Close Combat Weapon?

A Pictorial Guide To Further Defining MEQ Counts-As Vs Proxies

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This is an Ultramarine painted as an Ultramarine; in fact, it’s a Special Character.  His fluff allows him to show up in the Scout units of Loyalist Chapters, but he’ll never be anything but an Ultramarine.

These are marines of Khorne, Berserkers in fact.  The color scheme is different, but that’s moot in this case; the look is unique and people are familiar with it.  It represents a very specific type of Chaos Space Marine.  It would be hard to justify their use as anything other than that.
So from where I sit, using either of these two types of models as anything other than what they are would be a proxy.  Maybe with some modifications the Berserkers could be something else; I’d suggest shaving the Khorne symbol and ditching the helmet.  That profile screams Khorne!
The ‘Let’s Ask Some Questions and Confuse the Issue’ Section
So what are these?  Some of you recognize the 13th Company from the old Eye of Terror Codex, but that book is gone.  The recipe was about 50/50 Marine / Chaos Space Marine parts, with the fluff stating the dudes were behind enemy lines in the Eye of Horus and had to scrounge amongst their enemies for equipment.  Still… the book is gone now – what the hell are they?
I’d suggest they’re appropriate for a either Space Wolves or Chaos Space Marines, since it seems to me an argument could be made the 13th Company are either.
What makes a Marine – meaning how are they different from a Chaos Space Marine?  Is it a certain look?  Well here’s a Pre-Heresy Death Guard model… getting the crap shot out of him for being a traitorous *^$&#.  Still, he doesn’t look very chaotic.

Whereas these guys look pretty feral.  If you’re going on looks alone, they dudes look like they’re hard-bitten murderers.

Which this guy certainly is.  Seriously, Logan might look all ‘Imperial’ and stuff, but this dude has killed more people than smallpox – certainly more than any measly Chaos Space Marine!  Who’s evil now?

A Test, Anyone?
Is this model a Marine or a Chaos Space Marine?

What about this one?

What’s my point?  The model on the right makes use of ZERO parts from the CSM line, whereas the model on the left makes use of only one… so how can they be called Chaos?  Is it the skull heads?

Then what about a Chaplain?

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Breaking It Down:  What’s the Difference Between Marines and Chaos Marines?

Even that question isn’t simple.  Loyalists fight for the Emperor.  Chaos Space Marines fight for Chaos… and isn’t THAT broad!?  Meanwhile, you have Renegades in the picture, those Marines who fight for themselves.
I’m leaving it there; your turn!

The Brotherhood

Okay, I’m willing to admit these guys look more like Chaos Space Marines than Imperial Marines, but they’re Champions in the fluff I developed; the rank and file will be a bit more moderate.  I wanted the Brotherhood to look like the old Warbands from waaaaayyyy back in the day, with individual Champions combining their Warbands to create an army.

The obvious sticking point for some is I want to use the Space Wolves Codex.  Not such a popular choice these days, but the way the rules are developed fit my basic idea better than the Chaos Space Marine book.  I wanted unique and powerful Champions leading their Brotherhoods into battle… what does that sound like?

Sounds like a Counts-As to me… but I have to understand and accept that some folks won’t get past the look.  Perhaps more importantly, there are some places my army might not be welcome.  I have to respect the decision of the individual Tournament Organizers to make that call – it’s the price I pay on this one.

Here is a model I dropped from the Brotherhood.  Guess why?

The Nurgle symbol – I went too far, and this guy gave himself over to Nurgle.  He has no place in the Brotherhood.

Having Done Nothing But Further Confuse Some, the Article Ends

Here’s my basic point of view: if a model has a unique, specific look or paint scheme as identified from a Codex, then chances are using it as something else is a proxy.
The sharpest observation I’ve seen on the subject was someone who noted the main issue seems to be how often folks use Counts-As as a justification for using the strongest Codex.  That’s a fair point.
I’ll end here, with a comment from an email I was sent on the subject:

You know, we all sat down last week and talked this over at the store. Lots of us older players are now moving to the “heresy-era” MEQ forces as it allows us to have a cool looking fluffy model collection to sate our hobby side, while being vague enough to allow almost any CSM/MEQ codex to be used on the rules side.

And the biggest culprit in the new attitude: GW abandoning the tourney scene. They now have no leverage to make players want to use correct forces, so with ever rising prices, folks won’t bother.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Hugs and gropings?


EDIT:  In hindsight, I think it was a mistake to include the section on the Brotherhood in this article – all it did was confuse what I intended the purpose of this article to be.  So while the reason they’re included is because they kicked off this whole thought process in the first place, here’s my primary question:


Is there a distinctly ‘Imperial’ and ‘Chaos’ look?  What are the percentages, meaning if I use 50% CSM parts to make a model, does it look 100% Chaos Space Marine?  Regarding the test miniatures who use only one CSM part between them, does the overall look still seem more CSM than anything else?


I think questions like these are at the heart of why some Counts-As armies confuse their opponents or just plain seem unfluffy; do you agree?

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